The intimate apparel category has become less defined, which for Kerry O’Brien, the cofounder of Commando, a Vermont-based innerwear brand, is a good thing.
“What has really been exciting and fun is this idea that there is no big difference between intimate apparel and ready-to-wear,” said O’Brien. “The consumer feels liberated and they are teaching us how they want to wear these items.”
One of those consumers is Bella Hadid, whom O’Brien said was spotted in Paris wearing Commando’s shapewear shorts as actual shorts with an oversized blazer. This shift has pushed O’Brien and her team to think beyond intimate apparel and consider what the Commando take is on ready-to-wear basics.
According to O’Brien, shapewear is doing well, but Commando’s leggings business has grown tremendously, and for fall she will release more styles in a multitude of fabrics, including velvet, denim and faux leather. O’Brien said this gives the consumer a reason to buy more. Commando will also introduce a pencil skirt, a pant made from bonded material with a flare leg, more bodysuit variations and a stirrup line. She’s integrated Commando’s signature internal waistband into these items.
For sleepwear, O’Brien is considering adding value with multiuse items that can be worn outside of the bedroom. Commando has produced a tunic that seconds as a cover-up, an oversized men’s shirt, and contemporary silk pajamas coming in vibrant prints that Commando is known for.
As the depth of the assortment grows, O’Brien said the retail distribution plan hasn’t changed, but she has instilled a no-promotions pricing policy on Commando basics.
“I feel it benefited everybody. I don’t want the customer to be stressed out that if she buys it here it will be more expensive than if she buys it at another store,” said O’Brien. “That is a huge relief because we took all of that noise out for our consumer and evened the playing field.”
O’Brien also said department stores have been less rigid about where ready-to-wear items from Commando sit in store.
“The customer doesn’t want to be told what category she is going to buy in because she doesn’t care,” said O’Brien. “Me trying to figure out what category something should be is off the table and as a designer I don’t have any barriers.”
Despite an increased interest in intimate apparel acquisitions, O’Brien said Commando is still independently owned and she wants to keep it that way.